La Scena Musicale

Sunday, 14 February 2016

This Week in Toronto (Feb. 15 - 21)

My Toronto Concert Picks for the Week of February 15 to 21

~ Joseph So

The big news for voice fans this week is the return of the great Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky to Toronto in recital on Sunday, Feb. 21st 7 p.m. at Koerner Hall.  His public was stunned when it was announced last spring that Hvorostovsky was suffering from a brain tumour. The treatment turned out to be successful and he returned to performing in the fall.  He was in fine voice as Count di Luna at the Met in HD Il trovatore, although he did not sing the full slate of engagements originally contracted.  Hvorostovsky has had a long history of performing in Toronto - the first time was back around 1992 at Roy Thomson Hall.  He has since returned with regularity to sold out houses. This time is no exception - in fact I heard they are adding stage seating to meet the demand for tickets. His pianist is Ivari Ilya but other than that, no program details on the Koerner Hall website.  This is a recital not to be missed.

Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky

The headliners at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra concerts this week are Latvian violinist Baiba Skride and French conductor/Orchestre symphonique de Quebec Music Director Fabien Gabel. Skride is the soloists in the Brahms Violin Concerto. Also on the program is Cesar Franck's Symphony in D Minor. The opener is Simon Bertrand's Rideaux et Fanfares. Feb. 17 and 18, 8 pm at Roy Thomson Hall.

Latvian violinist Baiba Skride

Meanwhile at the Four Seasons Centre, The Marriage of Figaro, the second production of the Canadian Opera Company's winter season continues with performances on Feb. 17, 19, 21. Claus Guth's take on the Mozart is idiosyncratic to be sure, but musically this production is impeccable, with a great cast featuring Josef Wagner, Russell Braun, Erin Wall, Jane Archibald and Emily Fons. Johannes Debus conducts. I intend to catch it one more time, on Feb. 22 for the special Ensemble Studio performance.

Russian born pianist Pavel Kolesnikov

The brilliant Honens Laureate, pianist Pavel Kolesnikov, is the soloist in Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, in a mixed program that also features works by Mozart, Berlioz, Debussy and Bizet. RBC Resident Conductor Earl Lee conducts the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, for two performances, Saturday Feb. 20th and Sunday 21st at Roy Thomson Hall.

St. Lawrence Quartet

One of the premiere chamber group in Canada, the St. Lawrence Quartet is giving a recital at the Jane Mallett Theatre under the auspices of Music Toronto on Thursday, Feb. 18 8 p.m. The program features works by Schumann, Haydn and Samuel Adams.

Philip Addis and Emily Hamper in CASP's The Pilgrim Soul

Who says the classical song recital is dead or at best moribund? The Canadian Art Song Project was founded by tenor Lawrence Wiliford and pianist Steven Philcox a few years ago to preserve and promote existing Canadian art songs and to encourage the creation of new ones. On Feb. 19 7:30 p.m. at the Enoch Turner Schoolhouse (106 Trinity Street near Parliament and King in downtown Toronto), baritone Philip Addis and pianist Emily Hamper will perform works by Canadian composers Chester Duncan, Larysa Kuzmenko, Imant Raminsh, as well as Gustav Mahler and Dominick Argento.
Baritone-Guitarist Doug MacNaughton (

Few classical singers can match the eclecticism of baritone Doug MacNaughton, who is not only a fine singer of opera and oratorio, but also a songwriter and guitarist of note. On Tuesday Feb. 16 in a noon hour concert at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, MacNaughton is presenting Light and Shadow, a program that includes John Rutter's song cycle, Shadows, and the singer's own arrangements of songs from the folk, jazz, and classical repertoires, including a new work by Canadian composer Dean Burry. Here is the full program -  You may want to check out the artist's website -

Soprano Allison Arends

Soprano Allison Arends is presenting Forget Your Winter Blues, an afternoon of selections from opera and musical theatre. She is joined by soprano Michelle Righetti, tenor Patrick Jang, and pianist Rachael Kerr. The concert is on Feb. 20 at 2:30 p.m. The venue is Heliconian Club, 35 Hazelton Ave. in Yorkville.

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